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Taiwanese Longliner Caught With VMS Turned Off

Joint action between Seychelles and France has resulted in the owner and captain of a Taiwanese boat being fined R1,050,000 (USD 104,000) for illegal fishing.

The boat had falsely reported its position and had not recorded all its fishing operations in its logbook, as it should have done.

The operation was launched and organized under the monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) agreement signed in 2007 between the governments of Seychelles and France.

It came after the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) reported to the French fisheries authority of Reunion the incursion of the Taiwan-owned, Seychelles-flagged long-liner Shuenn Man 232, into the French exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The vessel is registered in Seychelles and has no authorization to fish in French waters.

On August 8, the Shuenn Man failed to send its vessel monitoring system (VMS) location data to the SFA but from that date reported its daily position manually, as per agreed protocol.

However, on September 10 the SFA started to receive the boat’s VMS signal and was surprised to pinpoint it in the EEZ of the French territory while it was transmitting manual positions on the high seas 300 nautical miles south of its true position. The boat was also declaring its catch in the false position.

Immediately, the SFA reported the incursion into the French EEZ and asked the French authorities to mobilize a patrol to intercept the long-liner. While a patrol vessel was steaming to reach the area, the Seychellois and French fisheries monitoring centres were tracking the movements of the Shuenn Man.

Jude Talma, director of the MCS division, said: “This vessel provided the SFA with false location reports, possibly by hindering the transmission of VMS in order to avoid being monitored through our VMS system, while engaging in illegal fishing activity in another coastal state’s waters.

“The owner and the captain made a serious mistake as Seychelles is strongly committed to eradicating such behavior.”

The Shuenn Man was intercepted on September 20 by the French patrol vessel in the Mozambican channel, 100 nautical miles south-west and inside the Europa Island EEZ. Its cargo comprised tuna as well as shark and fins from various species of shark.

Although the inspection did not show any infringement of French law, suspected breaches of Seychelles’ regulations were communicated to the SFA by the French authorities.

The Shuenn Man was then ordered by the SFA to come to Port Victoria, where a further investigation was carried out.

Its owner and the captain were later fined R1,050,000 (USD 104,000) for supplying false information to the SFA with regard to the position of its fishing operation, for not recording the position of all its fishing in its logbook and for fishing in places not specified in the fishing authorization.

The boat has now been deregistered from the Seychelles National Registry.

The joint operation came after the visit of European Union maritime commissioner Joe Borg to Seychelles, during which Minister Joel Morgan, responsible for fisheries, said he would implement a zero tolerance policy regarding illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities.

This joint operation with the French authorities shows the commitment and the determination of the government to fight against IUU fishing with regular patrols by the two Seychelles Coast Guard vessels, the Topaz and the Andromache.
To complement this, the SFA has recently signed a charter agreement with a private firm to provide a fishery patrol vessel.

The SFA is also taking an active part in an EU-funded regional fishery surveillance project managed by the Indian Ocean Commission.